Posted by By Bukola Olatunji in Lagos and Juliana Taiwo in Abuja on
Pupils admitted into Primary One, nationwide, at the kick-off of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in 2000....
Pupils admitted into Primary One, nationwide, at the kick-off of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in 2000, will again make history in September as they enrol into Junior Secondary Class One, without writing a Common Entrance Examination.
This is because September marks the official take-off of the new nine-year continuous basic education system in the country.
While expressing its readiness to ensure a smooth transition of the pupils, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) stressed that the 6-3-3-4 education policy, and not the much touted 9-3-4, is still in place.
"What the government has done is to recognise the first nine years of education as basic, which learners must acquire, tuition-free and without interruption. The question of Primary 7, 8 and 9 or Basic 7, 8 and 9, therefore, does not arise", an official of the commission told THISDAY yesterday.
This probably explains why the Federal Government has encouraged states to separate Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) from the Senior Secondary Schools (SSS), with the provision of separate facilities such as laboratories and libraries to make room for qualitative learning.
With the cancellation of the National Common Entrance Examination, the JSS has thus been phased out of the Federal Government Colleges or Unity Colleges and they will now be strictly for SSS, while a few of them will conduct the soon-to-be-reintroduced Advanced Level examinations.
THISDAY also gathered that as the last sets of JSS students move into Senior School in the next two years, the Federal Government will begin the conduct of a national common entrance, this time for JSS graduates to be admitted into the SSS of Unity colleges.
At the opening ceremony of a two-day meeting of UBEC management with the Executive Chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of State for Education, Sayyadu Abba Ruma, charged some states to be more proactive in the implementation of the UBE programmes.
The minister added that the Federal Government was indeed pleased with many states that had taken the programme very seriously and were on track with its implementation.
"States need to recognise the fact that they have the constitutional and moral responsibility to drive the programme. On its part, the Federal Government is committed to continuous provision of its support to all participating states in the programme", he said.
While arguing that education could not be entirely free, the minister however declared that no tuition fees should be charged at all levels of basic education in Nigeria under whatever circumstances provided such schools were public-owned.
He also disclosed that textbooks in the four core subjects in primary schools and five core subjects in JSS should be provided in addition to supplementary reading and other instructional materials free of charge.
According to him, "infrastructure such as classrooms, furniture and other school facilities shall be provided free. In other words, there shall be no levies whatsoever and under any guise to provide for school infrastructure, furniture among others".
Ruma opined that since the Federal Government provided huge financial support to states, it was expected that parents should no longer be unnecessarily burdened with payments of one form of fees or another.
Earlier in an opening remark, UBEC Executive Secretary, Gidado Tahir stated that the commission, in exercising its statutory functions has introduced and continues to implement a multi-stage approach for tracking the implementation of UBE programme, including the use of the intervention fund nationwide.
The meeting would not only enable a critical analysis and assessment of the implementation of the basic education programme in the various states so far, it would also deliberate on the smooth transition from primary six to JSS 1, school record keeping and continuous assessment, which replaces the common entrance examination at the end of primary six; school statistics, enrolment, number of teaching and non-teaching staff with qualification of teachers, among others.
Tahir observed that the shared experiences would provide needed remedies to constraints and difficulties encountered in the cause of implementing the UBE programme.